This article was originally published on Sales & Marketing Management.
Digital marketing is on an all-time rise, and B2B marketers face a huge challenge: connecting organically with new and existing audiences in a crowded marketplace that has had to pivot to fully virtual approaches. In an environment like this, companies’ digital footprints matter more than ever.
Potential clients aren’t just scanning a company’s website for pricing information. They’re poring over content in search of the most trustworthy company to work with. In fact, according to LinkedIn, decision makers read roughly 10 pieces of content before purchasing products and services.
People crave authentic interactions with businesses and real solutions to their problems. This focus on meaningful business relationships requires sales teams to establish their credibility in front of their companies’ target audiences. That’s where the marketing team comes in.
B2B marketers are uniquely positioned to help salespeople really connect with their networks. By supporting the sales team’s personal brands, B2B marketers can position salespeople as industry experts in order to foster a more efficient sales process and build the brand’s image in a digital world.
Content Marketing for Personal Branding
Personal branding and content go hand in hand. Expertise and unique insights define a professional’s digital presence and their relevance.
B2B buyers are inundated with corporate messaging daily and characterize their buying decisions as very complex or difficult, according to Gartner. But high-quality content gives salespeople a unique touchpoint that they can use to educate buyers, make the buying process simpler, and ultimately tip buyers toward a purchase.
There are many platforms to choose from when it comes to sharing content, but one of the most common platforms used to engage with professional audiences is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is free and makes it easy for salespeople to build their community. They can post questions, full-length articles, videos, and more to start a dialogue with their networks.
Once you’ve determined which platforms make the most sense for your company’s sales team (and you might have to run some tests), it’s important to share content consistently in order to build trust. Relevant, consistent content drives credibility — but make sure the content that your marketing team provides to the sales team is valuable and genuinely helps the target audience.
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In today’s climate, it’s especially important to infuse empathy into your content. Businesses and individuals alike face major challenges in their personal and professional lives, so it’s important for salespeople to show that they care. No matter how upbeat and engaging a salesperson is, their strategy will fail without empathy.
Marketing Strategies to Position Salespeople as Experts
Content is a powerful tool. It humanizes a brand and the people who represent it, especially the sales team. B2B marketing teams can use content in several ways to help the sales team build their personal brands:
Get salespeople’s buy-in.
Communicate the importance and purpose behind building salespeople’s personal brands and sharing their unique perspectives with peers in your industry. They need to understand the value of it before they will be bought in and engaged. Show them how they can overcome objections with content, use it as a follow-up tool, use it to showcase their unique insights on a matter, and use it to stay top of mind.
Provide opportunities for the sales team to share their insights on behalf of the company.
This could be done through the company blog, guest-contributed article opportunities (like the one you’re reading now!), or press mentions. For example, when a last-minute LinkedIn Live opportunity popped up with a few important players in our industry, we invited one of our salespeople to attend the conversation, speak on industry trends we specialize in, and elevate her personal brand.
Stay up-to-date on relevant conversations and trends.
Sales and marketing should get together regularly so salespeople can share questions they’re hearing in sales conversations and marketers can then create content that answers those questions. Our sales and marketing teams meet every other week to identify common pain points facing our audience and create specific content to educate our networks.
Ensure the sales team shares content your marketing team creates, and measure feedback.
Our marketing team regularly checks in with us to ask whether we’re sharing the content they’ve created for us, how the content is resonating, and what engagement has been like during the sales process. This could be as simple as a quick Slack message asking for feedback. If salespeople aren’t sharing the content your marketing team creates, dive into the “why” behind that: Do they not have a quick blurb they can share on LinkedIn? Does the marketing team need to create that? Pinpoint the barriers the sales team faces in terms of distribution and brainstorm how marketing can make that easier for them.
Provide easily shareable content.
Equip the sales team with resources they can share on social media. This might include writing up social posts for them that they can easily customize as needed and then share with their networks.
Help your salespeople find their niches online.
Identify social media groups or other distribution avenues that your salespeople can tap into to share content or participate in a dialogue. Take a look at your company’s LinkedIn presence and connect your salespeople with prominent people in your space. Make sure your sales team members reply to comments on their posts and interact with other thought leaders in your industry.
B2B buyers face difficult purchasing decisions, but they will purchase from companies they trust. Salespeople are often the introduction to a brand, so trust should be established immediately. The best way to build trust is to position your salespeople as experts in your industry by investing in their personal brands. Once people begin to value your sales team as a resource, they will be more likely to form a relationship with your brand.